Statewide Adverstising

Letter to the Editor:

September 10th, 2009

Two weeks ago an article was published concerning the judgment entered in the District Court dismissing our lawsuit against the State of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Sibley County and the Environmental Services Department. The result was expected and the matter will be appealed, but the article did not really educate the readers on the substance of our challenge.

This lawsuit began because we both objected to the registration of our property as feedlots when we had been advised that the program was voluntary, did not include the pastures where we graze animals, and there was no evidence of water quality impairment or that either of us was in any way contributing to any water impairment. Supposedly, the search and registration was necessary to further the objectives of the federal ‘Clean Water Act”. According to the EPA regulations though, our use of manure as a fertilizer resource on our own land, is exempt from federal regulatory standards. The questionable power of the MPCA and the county Environmental Services Department to search or seize our property in violation of our fundamental rights of privacy required us to challenge the State and County agencies. We also believe that it is hypocritical to criticize our agricultural practices and the non-existent impact on water quality, while the County spends thousands of dollars using helicopters to spray toxic herbicides directly into county ditches to kill weeds and bushes, regardless of impact on water quality.

We believe in the right of the individual to be left alone unless there is evidence of the causation of a specific harm to an individual or their property. But many regulators now believe they have the power to issue their own search warrants, without a judicial finding of probable cause based upon facts that disclose some violation. It has now been upheld by the judge’s ruling in this case, that virtually any state agent can enter your land and buildings without your permission or consent, to snoop around and make reports that will encourage more agents to conduct inspections and tell you what you can do on the land that you own privately. The feedlot program in Sibley County alone has cost taxpayers over $500,000.00 in the last 10 years. We, the people, have the power to stop this pointless and grotesque waste of public money, but first we have to say NO!

When agents searched our property, they found no violations. But why should anyone be subjected to armed government scrutiny to prove that they are innocent? Where is the right of privacy; the right to be left alone? In our opinion, this is a horribly misinterpreted understanding of the fourth amendment right of the individual to be free from unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant based on probable cause.

The government now believes that because they have passed regulations, everyone should expect searches at any time and for almost any reason. This does not jive with our reasonable understanding of what it means to live in a free country.

Further, the perpetrators of these attacks claim immunity from liability and leave law abiding citizens without any recourse because they are supported in their conduct by the state employed judiciary. You might not agree with us, but you would be wise to pay attention to these proceedings. The next time, you might be the target. How much will you have to spend to protect yourself from the actions of your elected officials and their unqualified, misguided, and poorly trained agents? The property owners in this county need to recognize that we are paying the bills for a class of bureaucrats that no longer respect us. We are forced to pay whatever they decide to spend. Is this the way you want to live your lives? Not us. We will continue to take whatever lawful steps we can to expose government actions that violate individual rights.

Douglas Gunnink
Michael Hartmann

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